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Paris suspect attacks court’s ‘anti-Muslim bias’

Published : Feb 6, 2018, 1:30 am IST
Updated : Feb 6, 2018, 1:31 am IST

On 1st day of trial, Abdeslam refused to answer any questions.

Salah Abdeslam
 Salah Abdeslam

Brussels: The prime surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, defied Belgian judges on Monday and refused stand for the court or answer any questions, alleging that the court was biased against Muslims.

“I am not afraid of you, I am not afraid of your allies. I put my trust in Allah and that’s all,” said a defiant Abdeslam, 28, who was transferred und-er heavy security from a jail near the French capital overnight for the trial.

“My silence does not make me a criminal, it’s my defence,” Abdeslam said. “Muslims are judged and treated in the worst of ways, mercilessly. There is no presumption of innocence.”

With police officers wearing body armour and black balaclavas with eye- and mouth-holes standing guard as the trial started, Abdeslam urged the prosecution to base its case on “forensic and tangible evidence”, and not to “swagger about to satisfy public opinion”.

Abdeslam, wearing a long-sleeved light shirt and dark trousers, launch-ed into his diatribe after presiding judge Marie-France Keutgen asked why he insisted on attending the trial where he ref-used to answer questions about the charges against him. The judge rejected his accusations of bias, insisting he was presumed innocent.

Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national of Moroccan descent, has point-blank refused to speak to investigators since his arrest in Brussels in March 2016 after a gunbattle in the Forest district of the city for which he is on trial. Three police officers were wounded and an Algerian fellow jihadist was killed in the encounter.

French prosecutors beli-eve Abdeslam played a key role in the Paris attacks in which gunmen and suicide bombers, including his brother Brahim, targeted a concert hall, stadium, restaurants and bars, killing 130 people and injuring hundreds more.

He became Euro-pe’s most wanted man after the mass killings.

Tags: paris attacks, salah abdeslam